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A Spotlight on the Big Ways BGCA Serves Native Youth

boysandgirlsclubIn addition to serving youth in major cities nationwide, Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BBCA) maintains over 1,000 Clubs in rural areas. These include many communities on Native lands, which are home to American Indian, Alaska Native, American Samoan, and Hawaiian tribal youth. Along with the challenges that affect young people of all cultural backgrounds, those in Native communities often have unique needs that aren’t being addressed by local programs.

As part of a commitment to promote and expand youth development initiatives among Native kids and teens, BGCA established its Native Services arm in partnership with tribal leaders and other key stakeholders on tribal lands. Keep reading to learn more about BGCA Native Services and what it’s doing to improve the lives of Native youth.

 

Challenges Facing Native Communities

Across the United States, there are many self-governing Native American communities that are home to over 570 federally recognized tribes. Each of these groups has its own rich culture, heritage, language, and traditions. Unfortunately, many Native communities also face unique challenges that make it difficult for tribe members, including Native youth, to reach their full potential.

Although many young tribe members thrive and succeed in life, Native youth are among the most vulnerable populations in the country. In addition to experiencing high rates of poverty, a disproportionate number of Native youth face challenges related to physical and nutritional health, mental wellness, substance abuse, and education. A lack of local resources and the isolation of some Native communities can make these challenges even more difficult to overcome.

 

What BGCA Native Services Is Doing to Help

The mission of BGCA Native Services is to help Native youth reach their full potential while celebrating the particular strengths and cultural traditions of the country’s tribal communities. Since launching Native Services in 1992, BGCA has expanded its offerings to become the largest youth-serving organization on Native land. Today, more than 86,000 youth from over 100 tribes benefit from programming offered through nearly 200 Native Clubs nationwide.

Over the years, BGCA has built sustainable partnerships with tribal leaders and invested resources toward improving the capacity of professional staff and other leaders of Native Clubs. As with Club programs outside of Native communities, those implemented by BGCA Native Services focus on physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development. BGCA has also worked closely with local tribes and community leaders to develop programming specific to the needs and cultures of Native youth.

 

Native Services Club Programs

Native Services Club programs cover each of BGCA’s five core program areas: Character and Leadership Development; Health and Life Skills; Education and Career Development; the Arts; and Sports, Fitness and Recreation. Native Club youth take part in national BGCA programs such as All Stars, DIY STEM, My.Future, and Smart Moves.

Through the work of Native Services leaders, the curriculum of each of these programs has been adapted to be more reflective of Native American culture. BGCA also encourages all local Native Club leaders to create supplemental materials and activities to further reflect their own community’s unique culture and traditions. Native Services even created its Cultural Program Toolbox to make it easier for Clubs to build and implement culturally relevant services.

Along with adapting existing BGCA programming, Native Services has developed programs that are only implemented in Native Clubs. They include On the T.R.A.I.L (Together Raising Awareness for Indian Life) to Diabetes Prevention. This program aims to reduce the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes among Native communities through a combination of physical, nutritional, and educational activities.

 

Keeping the Momentum Going

More than 25 years after launching Native Services, BGCA continues to build momentum as the top youth agency on Native lands. As part of its Great Futures 2025 Strategy, which was developed in 2017, the organization has established four key priorities for its activities with Native youth.

Going forward, Boys and Girls Clubs will work to increase the quality of Native Club programs and leadership while advocating for Native youth development. The group will also focus on growing the number of Native Club members as it continues to expand and improve programming.

BGCA Native Services has received significant support in these efforts from corporate and nonprofit partners. This includes the Walmart Foundation, which donated $500,000 to help BGCA provide Native kids and teens with education on healthy lifestyles and nutrition. The funding is supporting education and Club improvements at over two dozen Clubs on Native lands.

BGCA also relies on the support of individual donors to continue its Native Services programming. Supporters can make a tax-deductible donation to the Native American Sustainability Fund to ensure that Native Clubs continue to thrive. Each dollar donated to the fund is used to increase Club sustainability, foster organizational growth, and provide training resources and technical support for Native Club leaders.

More information about BGCA Native Services and ways you can help is available at www.naclubs.org.

 

Disclaimer: This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy or validity of any statements or information provided on this website. Do not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional healthcare provider. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are suffering from a medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website. 

Here Are the Results of the 10th Annual Warrior Survey

woundedwarriorprojectIn its efforts to identify the challenges facing the nation’s veterans and their families, Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) conducts an annual survey examining the physical, emotional, mental, economic, and social needs of post-9/11 service members. It is the largest survey of its kind.

The WWP Annual Warrior Survey helps the organization allocate resources toward programs and initiatives with the highest potential impact. The survey also provides important data that policymakers and government agencies can use to improve the quality of veterans’ programs and services.

WWP recently released the results of its 10th Annual Warrior Survey. It collected information on numerous topics concerning veterans, including demographic shifts, deployment trends, employment and financial stability, and homelessness.

Survey data also provided health information related to service-connected physical injuries, PTSD and traumatic brain injury, physical health and obesity, and substance abuse. Keep reading for a closer look at the findings from WWP’s 2019 Warrior Survey.

 

Respondent Demographics

For its 10th Annual Warrior Survey, WWP reached out to just under 110,000 members and received 35,908 completed surveys. Of those who responded, 83 percent are male with an average age of 42. The majority of respondents (65.9 percent) were married at the time of the survey. Just over 37 percent of respondents possessed a bachelor’s degree or higher.

In terms of race and ethnicity, the top three represented among respondents are Caucasian (66.1 percent), Hispanic (19.6 percent), and Black or African American (16 percent). The remaining respondents comprise American Indian or Alaskan Native (5.3 percent), those who identified as other race/ethnicity (3.8 percent), Asian (3.7 percent), and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander (1.6 percent).

Respondents hailed from several areas of the country, but most (54 percent) were living in the South at the time of the survey. Nearly one-quarter (23.8 percent) live in the West while 12.6 percent live in the Midwest and 9.6 percent live in the Northeast.

 

Service-Connected Injuries and Health Issues

boys and girls clubAs mentioned, the main goal of the Annual Warrior Survey is to identify challenges facing the nation’s veterans in order to help WWP and other organizations tailor their assistance programs and services accordingly. The top challenges typically include service-related physical injuries and associated mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Among the respondents to the 10th Annual Warrior Survey, 91 percent experienced three or more injuries as a result of their military service. At the top of the list of most commonly reported issues in the survey were sleep problems, PTSD, and anxiety. These issues were reported by 87.5 percent, 82.8 percent, and 80.7 percent of respondents, respectively. Back, neck, or shoulder problems and depression were also among the most common self-reported health issues.

A new health question in the 2019 Warrior Survey asked respondents about their exposure to toxic materials such as chemical agents and burn pit fumes. Over two-thirds (70.4 percent) of respondents reported that they had definitely been exposed to such environmental hazards during their service. However, less than 10 percent reported receiving treatment for their exposure.

 

Social Support, Health Care Coverage, and Access to Care

Fortunately, the level of social support among veterans who responded to the survey appears to be quite high. Nearly 80 percent of respondents agreed that there are people they could turn to for help if they needed it. Over 72 percent agreed that there are people around them who enjoy the same social activities they do.

In addition to benefitting from social support, most (71 percent) respondents reported that they receive at least some health care coverage through Veterans Affairs (VA). This represents a 12 percent increase over the last five years. Nearly all those who receive VA coverage choose to use the agency’s services. Veterans cited prescription benefits and access to care for service-related disabilities among the top reasons for selecting the VA over other providers.

An important takeaway from the 10th Annual Warrior Survey is related to access to care for mental health issues. This has been an ongoing issue that continues to affect nearly one-third of veterans in need of care. Fortunately, however, the 2019 survey shows slight improvements in this area over the previous year.

 

Employment and Financial Well-Being

Numerous barriers make it difficult for some veterans to obtain employment. Fortunately, however, the majority of Warrior Survey respondents (62.6 percent) are employed, and 48.8 percent of them are employed full-time.

The percentage of respondents employed part-time is 7.3 percent, and 6.6 percent are self-employed. For those respondents who are not in the labor force, some of the most commonly cited barriers to employment include mental health issues (35 percent), difficulty being around others (28.3 percent), and physical issues (19.6 percent).

In the areas of income and finances, findings from the 2019 Annual Warrior Survey show that respondents are feeling better about their financial situations than they were in 2018. Nearly 30 percent of warriors surveyed said that their finances have improved compared to the previous year. This represents a 2 percent improvement from 2018 and a nearly 8 percent improvement from the first Warrior Survey in 2010.

One reason for the improvement in finances could be related to the growth in the number of veterans who possess a bachelor’s degree or higher. Over 37 percent of respondents hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, approximately one in five of those surveyed reported that they are currently pursuing post-secondary credentials.

More information about the findings from the 10th Annual Warrior Survey is available at www.woundedwarrior.org.

 

Disclaimer: This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy or validity of any statements or information provided on this website. Do not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional healthcare provider. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are suffering from a medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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Here Are the Top Character and Leadership Programs at BGCA

boysandgirlsclubOver the course of its 150-plus-year history, Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) has built a full suite of programs designed to help kids and teens excel in school and lead healthy, productive lives. With more than 4,600 Clubs in US cities and military installations worldwide, the organization offers programs in various areas, including education, health and wellness, sports, and the arts. A core focus of BGCA’s work is on instilling character and leadership skills among its 4.7 million members.

BGCA’s efforts to create 21st-century leaders have been very successful. In fact, 75 percent of its regular members report having volunteered in their communities at least once in the previous year. Meanwhile, 41 percent of Club youth report volunteering at least once per month. In addition to volunteering their time, BGCA members demonstrate good character through their willingness to stand up for what is right while ensuring that those around them feel important.

The ultimate goal of BGCA’s character and leadership programs is to help youth become caring and responsible citizens with the decision-making and planning skills needed to contribute positively to their local Club and greater communities. Read on to learn more about these impactful programs and initiatives.

 

Keystone Club

Much of BGCA’s character and leadership work is carried out in its Keystone Clubs. Designed for youth ages 14 to 18, Keystone Club is a national program that focuses on service and leadership and gives participants the opportunity to volunteer in

their communities. Under the guidance of an adult supervisor, youth engage in activities aimed at academic success and career preparation.

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Along with after-school activities, Keystone Club members participate in the BGCA-hosted National Keystone Conference. This annual multi-day event brings teen leaders and adult advisors from across the country together for activities focused on various social issues. More than 1,500 people took part in the 2019 Keystone Conference, which covered a range of topics, including school violence, mental health, and gender identity.

The National Keystone Conference and Keystone Clubs across the country are supported in large part through the generosity of Aaron’s, Inc. In 2018, the lease-purchase retailer’s giving division, Aaron’s Foundation, renewed its partnership with Keystone Clubs and BGCA via a three-year, $5-million commitment. The money will be used to fund the Keystone Conference and provide renovations of Clubs nationwide.

 

Million Members, Million Hours of Service

As its name suggests, Million Members, Million Hours of Service (MMMHS) is a BGCA initiative that aims to engage 1 million Club members in 1 million hours of community service each year. In addition to helping Club youth become more productive, service-oriented citizens, MMMHS benefits participants by promoting positive relationships and assisting them in avoiding risky behavior. Studies have also shown that youth who engage in service perform better academically and are less likely to drop out of high school.

The list of BGCA partners that have supported MMMHS includes the Citi Foundation, a group that backed past signature service events such as United We Serve: Summer of Service. BGCA continues to host service activities as part of MMMHS, but Club members are encouraged to host their own service projects throughout the year.

 

Torch Club

Referred to as “the club within the Club,” Torch Club was created to help adolescents ages 11 to 13 develop leadership skills as well as good character and integrity. Boys and girls who participate in local Torch Club programs elect leadership officers and work together to organize and implement various activities. These activities focus on service to Club and community, health and fitness, social recreation, and education. Torch Club members across the country are also invited to engage in a service-learning experience as part of the annual National Torch Club Project.

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Corporate supporters of Torch Club include Old Navy, which raises money for the national program via its annual back-to-school donation drive. In addition, Old Navy employees volunteer their time to Torch Clubs nationwide. Samsung Electronics America is also a Torch Club supporter. Each year, the company sponsors the Climate Superstars Challenge, which has eligible Torch Clubs competing to win Samsung products.

 

Youth of the Year

Since its beginnings as a grassroots initiative in the late 1940s, Youth of the Year has grown to become BGCA’s signature leadership development program. To become the Youth of the Year, a Club teen must advance through local, state, and regional events. Winners are chosen because they exemplify the BGCA mission and showcase the organization’s ability to help youth reach their full potential as responsible, productive, and caring citizens.

In addition to selecting one exceptional Club member as the National Youth of the Year, Boys and Girls Clubs nationwide involve more members in the program as part of its Youth of the Month component. Meanwhile, younger Club members ages 11 to 13 are recognized through the Junior Youth of the Year program.

In 2019, six outstanding young men and women were chosen as finalists for National Youth of the Year. The award was ultimately given to Sabrina M., a Barnard College freshman who has been a Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco member for over 12 years. She was honored during a special gala and celebration dinner in Washington, DC, and will now serve as the national teen spokesperson for Club youth.

 

Disclaimer: This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy or validity of any statements or information provided on this website. Do not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional healthcare provider. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are suffering from a medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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This Is What You Need to Know about the Purple Heart Medal

In 1957, the Purple Heart Foundation was established as the fundraising arm of the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH), a congressionally chartered veterans organization comprising a membership body of Purple Heart recipients. Today, the Foundation and MOPH continue to oversee and support a range of programs that help veterans recover and prosper following military service.

To gain a better appreciation of these two organizations and the decorated military members they serve, take a look at these 10 facts about the Purple Heart medal:

 

  1. The Purple Heart is the oldest military honor in the US.

While it took many more years to evolve into its current look and name, the Purple Heart has a history dating back to the 1780s. Its predecessor, the Badge of Military Merit, was established by President George Washington in 1782. After the medal fell into disuse, General Douglas MacArthur led efforts to revive the honor in the early 1930s, creating the modern-day Purple Heart.

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  1. The medal was first awarded during the Revolutionary War.

Elijah Churchill and William Brown of the Continental Army are most commonly credited as being the first Purple Heart recipients. Of course, the two soldiers received the honor under its original title, the Badge of Military Merit. The first modern-day Purple Heart was awarded to the man who helped create it, General Douglas MacArthur.

 

  1. It was the first military award for lower-ranking soldiers.

Prior to the establishment of the Purple Heart’s predecessor, military honors were typically reserved for officers credited with significant victories in battle. President Washington created the Badge of Military Merit specifically to honor the outstanding service of enlisted soldiers and noncommissioned officers among his troops.

 

  1. Animals are among the list of Purple Heart recipients.

In its long history, the Purple Heart has been awarded to four-legged recipients. During WWI, a dog named Stubby was awarded two Purple Hearts for his actions with the 102nd Infantry Regiment. A horse named Reckless also received the honor twice for wounds she incurred during the Korean War. Military service animals aren’t currently eligible for the Purple Heart, however.

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  1. Many well-known individuals have received the honor.

Over the years, the Purple Heart has been bestowed upon many people who are well-known for their civilian achievements. This includes politicians such as John Kerry and John McCain, writers and filmmakers such as Kurt Vonnegut and Oliver Stone, and actors such as Charles Bronson and James Garner.

 

  1. The Purple Heart has been awarded to only one US president.

Politicians at all levels of government are among the list of Purple Heart recipients. However, the list of US presidents who have earned the honor contains only one individual: John F. Kennedy.

As a Navy reserve lieutenant during WWII, Kennedy was injured during a boat collision near the Solomon Islands. Despite the injury to his back, he managed to swim to shore and save another soldier. In addition to the Purple Heart, Kennedy was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for this act.

 

  1. More Purple Hearts were awarded during WWII than any other conflict.

John F. Kennedy is among a large group of over 1 million people who earned the Purple Heart for their actions during WWII. In total, 1.07 million of the medals were awarded during the war, which is more than all that were awarded in all other 20th-century conflicts combined.

 

  1. Purple Hearts weren’t always reserved exclusively for injured or mortally wounded service members.

Today, the Purple Heart medal is only awarded to military personnel who are injured or killed during a hostile encounter with enemy forces, but this wasn’t always the case. Originally, the honor could be bestowed on anyone who provided a “meritorious act of extraordinary fidelity” during military action, regardless of whether or not they were injured.

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  1. The record for the most Purple Hearts awarded to one individual is in the double digits.

Although a number of service members have earned more than one Purple Heart, the record for the most Purple Hearts in US military history belongs to Curry T. Haynes. During the Vietnam War, the member of the 173rd Airborne Brigade of the 503rd Army Infantry received a series of injuries that later earned him 10 Purple Hearts. Haynes’ injuries occurred as the result of gunfire, grenades, and a B-40 rocket.

 

  1. Purple Heart Day honors Purple Heart recipients.

On August 7, government agencies, current and former service members, veterans’ organizations, and other groups come together to take part in National Purple Heart Day, which was first observed in 2014. This special day of observance gives people the opportunity to recognize the sacrifices of the men and women who have been injured or killed while serving their country. Ways to get involved include attending an event or donating to groups such as the Purple Heart Foundation.

 

Disclaimer: This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy or validity of any statements or information provided on this website. Do not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional healthcare provider. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are suffering from a medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.